John Winthrop
Governor of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, author of "City upon a Hill"
John Winthrop
John Winthrop was a wealthy English Puritan lawyer, and one of the leading figures in the founding of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the first major settlement in New England after Plymouth Colony. Winthrop led the first large wave of migrants from England in 1630, and served as governor for 12 of the colony's first 20 years of existence.
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Commentary: American exceptionalism prevails - Jacksonville Journal-Courier
Google News - over 5 years
John Winthrop, the Puritan leader, thought of his version of America as a “City upon a Hill” and the Puritans of New England would serve as a model for the rest of the world. As a conscious creation of settlers from many countries, a new nation with an
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My Take: God no longer in the whirlwind - CNN (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
The Great Colonial Hurricane of 1635 arrived as a surprise and took many lives with it, including, according to the report of the Massachusetts governor John Winthrop, those of eight Native Americans taken by the storm surge while “flying from their
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Column: Mesa getting Hooters restaurant back - Arizona Republic
Google News - over 5 years
Take that, John Winthrop. Once upon a time, Mesa had a Hooters out at Superstition Springs, but it closed awhile back, leaving dozens of comely young women running around Mesa in bright orange shorts and pantyhose for no apparent reason
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The Intentional Sightseer -
Google News - over 5 years
I thought of New London founder and Mill owner John Winthrop Jr., and all the other men who had climbed those little staircases and labored under those low ceilings, removing their buckled hats and stooping at the front door. Standing on the top floor,
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“Let Them Go Their Way” - Canada Free Press
Google News - over 5 years
If we fail to keep our rendezvous with destiny or, as John Winthrop said in 1630, “Deal falsely with our God,” we shall be made “a story and byword throughout the world.” Americans are hungry to feel once again a sense of mission and greatness
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History, Hardliners, and Humility - Family Security Matters
Google News - over 5 years
Those are the words of John Winthrop, the legendary founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the man Paul Johnson, the peerless British historian, calls “the first great American.” As Johnson recounts in A History of the American People, on July 3,
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The Waterford Connection -
Google News - over 5 years
The Company had bought the land, a portion of the Connecticut Western Reserve, from the State of Connecticut, which had claimed it since John Winthrop, Jr.'s 1662 Charter granted the new Colony the land “from the Said Norrogancett Bay on the East to
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HETRICK: The fools who tarnish our shining city on the hill - Indianapolis Business Journal
Google News - over 5 years
En route from England to America in 1630, Puritan minister John Winthrop laid out a vision for his fellow colonists: “We must always consider that we shall be as a City upon a Hill,” he said. “The eyes of all people are upon us
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The Notes: Ronald Reagan's Private Collection of Stories and Wisdom. Douglas ... - The Cutting Edge
Google News - over 5 years
John Winthrop and John Adams herald America's divine destiny. Reagan found further political affirmation from prominent Democrats: Woodrow Wilson's and Franklin Roosevelt's cautions on the corrosive nature of state dependence, John Kennedy's support of
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Beijing's Theology of Repression - Wall Street Journal
Google News - over 5 years
'For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill," Puritan John Winthrop famously preached to fellow immigrants to America aboard the Arbella in 1630. At least two American presidents in the 20th century, John Kennedy and
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American dream is about equality, not wealth - CNN International
Google News - over 5 years
In the 17th century, we see this modest version of the American dream most clearly in the "city upon a hill" sermon (a favorite of Ronald Reagan) that John Winthrop, one of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's early governors, gave as the Puritans were on
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IN THE GARDEN; The Period Vegetable Patch
NYTimes - over 5 years
WHO was Good King Henry? I first encountered the label in the Fedco Seeds catalog, as a common name for a plant in the genus Chenopodium. It's an edible perennial with shoots like asparagus and leaves like spinach. But before Good King Henry was a salad green, he was, ostensibly, something nobler: European royalty. There is no shortage of English
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Midland Remembers: Part one of the story of the Bradford family - Midland Daily News
Google News - over 5 years
John Winthrop was to become the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. John Carver was elected the first governor of the Plymouth Colony but while Winthrop lived to guide his colony for a number of years, John Carver died within a year of being
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Living the American Dream -
Google News - over 5 years
America has traveled worlds since 1630 when Puritan John Winthrop called America a "shining city upon a hill." It's bigger now. It's faster. It's more dangerous. But it is still our nation, guided by the idea that we are all created equal,
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America's Sacred Ground - Huffington Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
In 1630, John Winthrop sailed across the Atlantic Ocean seeking sacred ground. Hounded in England, the Puritans would be free to worship as they wished in the New World. A footnote in someone else's story over there, they would author their own destiny
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Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of John Winthrop
  • 1649
    Age 62
    Winthrop died of natural causes on 26 March 1649, and is buried in what is now called the King's Chapel Burying Ground in Boston.
    More Details Hide Details He was survived by his wife Martha and five sons. Though rarely published and relatively unappreciated for his literary contribution during his time, Winthrop spent his life continually producing written accounts of historical events and religious manifestations. Winthrop's major contributions to the literary world were A Modell of Christian Charity (1630) and The History of New England (1630–1649; also known as The Journal of John Winthrop), which remained unpublished until the late 18th century. John Winthrop wrote and delivered the lay sermon that would be called A Modell of Christian Charity either before the 1630 crossing to North America or while en route. It described the ideas and plans to keep the Puritan society strong in faith as well as the struggles that they would have to overcome in the New World. He used the phrase "city upon a hill" (derived from the Bible's Sermon on the Mount: "You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden") to characterize the colonists' endeavour as part of a special pact with God to create a holy community. He encouraged the colonists to "bear one another's burdens", and to view themselves as a "Company of Christ, bound together by Love." He told the colonists to be stricter in their religious conformance than even the Church of England, and to view as their objective the establishment of a model state.
  • 1647
    Age 60
    Sometime after 20 December 1647 and before the birth of their only child in 1648, Winthrop married his fourth wife, Martha Rainsborough.
    More Details Hide Details She was the widow of Thomas Coytmore, and sister of Thomas and William Rainborowe.
    Two more children were born to the Winthrops in New England before Margaret died on 14 June 1647.
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  • 1646
    Age 59
    In 1646, with Winthrop again in the governor's seat, d'Aulnay appeared in Boston and demanded reparations for damage done by the English volunteers.
    More Details Hide Details Winthrop placated the French governor with the gift of a sedan chair, originally given to him by an English privateer. In addition to his responsibilities in the colonial government, Winthrop was a significant property owner. He owned the Ten Hills Farm, as well as land that would become the town of Billerica, Governors Island (now the site of Logan International Airport) in Boston Harbor, and Prudence Island in Narragansett Bay. He also engaged in the fur trade in partnership with William Pynchon, using the Blessing of the Bay to further that business. Governors Island was named for him, and remained in the Winthrop family until 1808, when it was purchased for the construction of Fort Winthrop. The farm at Ten Hills suffered from poor oversight on Winthrop's part - the steward of the farm made questionable financial deals that in the early 1640s caused Winthrop to have a cash crisis. The colony insisted on paying him his salary (something he had regularly refused to accept in the past), as well as his out-of-pocket expenses while engaged in official duties. Private subscriptions to support him raised about £500 and the colony also granted his wife of land.
  • 1645
    Age 58
    Winthrop became the focus of allegations about the arbitrary rule of the magistrates in 1645, when he was formally charged with interfering with local decisions in a case involving the Hingham militia.
    More Details Hide Details The case centered around the disputed appointment of a new commander, and a panel of magistrates headed by Winthrop had had several parties on both sides of the dispute imprisoned pending a meeting of the court of assistants. Peter Hobart, the minister in Hingham and one of several Hobarts on one side of the dispute, vociferously questioned the authority of the magistrates and railed against Winthrop specifically for what he characterized as arbitrary and tyrannical actions. Winthrop defused the matter by stepping down from the bench to appear before it as a defendant. Winthrop successfully defended himself, pointing out that not only had he not acted alone, but that judges are not usually criminally culpable for errors they make on the bench, and that the dispute in Hingham was serious enough that it required the intervention of the magistrates. Winthrop was acquitted and the complainants were fined.
  • 1644
    Age 57
    The 1644 election became a referendum on Winthrop's policy, and he was turned out of office.
    More Details Hide Details The Acadian dispute was eventually resolved with d'Aulnay as the victor.
  • 1642
    Age 55
    French Acadia, covering the eastern half of present-day Maine, as well as New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, was at the time embroiled in a minor civil war between competing administrators. After English colonists began trading with Charles de Saint-Étienne de la Tour in 1642, his opponent, Charles de Menou d'Aulnay, warned Boston traders away from la Tour's territories.
    More Details Hide Details In June 1643 la Tour came to Boston and requested military assistance against assaults by d'Aulnay. Winthrop, then governor, refused official assistance, but allowed la Tour to recruit volunteers from the colony for service. This decision brought on a storm of criticism, principally from the magistrates of Essex County, which was geographically closest to the ongoing dispute. John Endecott was particularly critical, noting that Winthrop had given the French a chance to see the colonial defenses.
  • 1637
    Age 50
    In the 1637 election, Vane was turned out of all offices, and Dudley was elected governor.
    More Details Hide Details His election did not immediately quell the controversy. First John Wheelwright and later Anne Hutchinson were put on trial, and both were banished from the colony. (Hutchinson founded Portsmouth, Rhode Island and Wheelwright founded first Exeter, New Hampshire and then Wells, Maine in order to be free of Massachusetts rule.) Winthrop was active in arguing against their supporters, but Shepard criticized him for being too moderate, claiming Winthrop should "make their wickedness and guile manifest to all men that they may go no farther and then will sink of themselves." Hooker and Haynes had left Massachusetts in 1636 and 1637 for new settlements on the Connecticut River (the nucleus of the Connecticut Colony), and Vane left for England after the 1637 election, suggesting he might seek to acquire a commission as a governor general to overturn the colonial government. (Vane never returned to the colony, and became an important figure in Parliament before and during the English Civil Wars; he was beheaded after the Restoration.)
  • 1636
    Age 49
    By December 1636 the dispute reached into colonial politics, and Winthrop, in a bid to bridge the divide between the two factions, penned an account of his religious awakening and theological position papers designed to facilitate a harmonization of the opposing views.
    More Details Hide Details How widely these documents circulated is not known (and not all of them have survived), but the Legalist pastor Thomas Shepard reacted in a way that biographer Francis Bremer describes as "horrified", and containing "a color of Arminianism, which I believe your Winthrop's soul abhors."
  • 1634
    Age 47
    In 1634 and 1635 Winthrop served as an assistant, while the influx of migrants brought first John Haynes and then Henry Vane to the governorship.
    More Details Hide Details These two men, along with Anne Hutchinson and pastors Thomas Hooker and John Wheelwright, espoused religious or political views that were at odds with those of the earlier arrivals, including Winthrop. Hutchinson and Wheelwright subscribed to the Antinomian view that following religious laws was not required for salvation, while Winthrop and others believed in a more Legalist view. This religious rift, commonly called the Antinomian Controversy, significantly divided the colony, and Winthrop saw the other side's beliefs as a particularly unpleasant and dangerous heresy.
  • 1631
    Age 44
    Winthrop wrote primarily of his private accounts: his journey from England, the arrival of his wife and children to the colony in 1631, and the birth of his son in 1632.
    More Details Hide Details He also wrote profound insights into the nature of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and nearly all important events of the day. The majority of his early journal entries were not intended to be literary, but merely observations of early New England life. Gradually, the focus of his writings shifted from his personal observations to broader spiritual ideologies and behind-the-scenes views of political matters. Winthrop's earliest publication was likely The Humble Request of His Majesties Loyal Subjects (London, 1630), which defended the emigrants' physical separation from England and reaffirmed their loyalty to the Crown and Church of England. This work was republished by Joshua Scottow in the 1696 compilation MASSACHUSETTS: or The first Planters of New-England, The End and Manner of their coming thither, and Abode there: In several EPISTLES. In addition to his more famous works, Winthrop produced a number of writings, both published and unpublished. While living in England, Winthrop articulated his belief "in the validity of experience" in a private religious journal, known as his Experiencia. This journal, in which he wrote intermittently between 1607 and 1637, was a sort of confessional, very different in tone and style to the Journal. Later in his life, Winthrop wrote A Short Story of the rise, reign, and ruine of the Antinomians, Familists and Libertines, that Infected the Churches of New England, which described the Antinomian controversy surrounding Anne Hutchinson in 1636 and 1637.
    Winthrop built his house in Boston, where he also had a relatively spacious plot of arable land. In 1631 he was granted a larger parcel of land on the banks of the Mystic River that he called Ten Hills Farm.
    More Details Hide Details On the other side of the Mystic was the shipyard owned in absentia by Matthew Cradock, where one of the colony's first boats, Winthrop's Blessing of the Bay, was built. Winthrop operated her as a trading and packet ship up and down the coast of New England. The issue of where to locate the colony's capital caused the first in a series of rifts between Winthrop and Dudley. Dudley had constructed his home at Newtown (present-day Harvard Square, Cambridge) after the council had agreed the capital would be established there. However, Winthrop decided instead to build his home in Boston when asked by its residents to stay there. This upset Dudley, and their relationship worsened when Winthrop criticized Dudley for what he perceived as excessive decorative woodwork in his house. However, they seemed to reconcile after their children were married. Winthrop recounts the two of them, each having been granted land near Concord, going to stake their claims. At the boundary between their lands, a pair of boulders were named the Two Brothers "in remembrance that they were brothers by their children's marriage". Dudley's lands became Bedford, and Winthrop's Billerica.
  • 1630
    Age 43
    The colony struggled with disease in its early months, losing as many as 200 people, including Winthrop's son Henry, in 1630, to a variety of causes and about 80 others who returned to England in the spring due to these conditions.
    More Details Hide Details Winthrop set an example to the other colonists in joining servants and laborers in the work of the colony. According to one report, he "fell to work with his own hands, and thereby so encouraged the rest that there was not an idle person to be found in the whole plantation."
    On 8 April 1630, four ships left the Isle of Wight, carrying Winthrop and other leaders of the colony.
    More Details Hide Details Winthrop sailed on the Arbella, accompanied by his two young sons, Samuel and Stephen. The ships were part of a larger fleet, totalling 11 ships, that would carry about 700 migrants to the colony. Winthrop's son Henry Winthrop missed the Arbella sailing, and ended up on the Talbot, which also sailed from Wight. Winthrop wrote a sermon entitled A Modell of Christian Charity, which was delivered either before or during the crossing. It described the ideas and plans to keep the Puritan society strong in faith as well as comparing the struggles that they would have to overcome in the New World to the story of Exodus. In it he used the now famous phrase "City upon a Hill" to describe the ideals to which the colonists should strive, and that consequently "the eyes of all people are upon us." Winthrop also said, "in all times some must be rich some poore, some highe and eminent in power and dignitie; others meane and in subjection", and in short meant that there were those who were rich and successful and others who were poor and subservient to others. But Winthrop also said that although these two groups were different both were equally important to the colony because both groups were members to the same community.
    By April 1630 Winthrop had put most of his affairs in order.
    More Details Hide Details Groton Manor had not yet been sold, because of a long-running title dispute. The legal dispute was only resolved after his departure, and the property's sale was finalized by Margaret before she and John Jr. left for the colony. John Winthrop used a coat of arms that was reportedly confirmed by the College of Arms, London, to his paternal uncle in 1592. It was also used by his sons. These arms appear on his tombstone in the King's Chapel Burying Ground. It is also as the coat of arms for Winthrop House at Harvard University and are displayed on the still intact 1675 house of his youngest son, Deane Winthrop at the Deane Winthrop House. The heraldic blazon of arms is: Argent three chevronels Gules overall a lion rampant Sable.
    Winthrop also worked to convince his grown children to join the migration; John, Jr. and Henry both decided to do so, but only Henry sailed in the 1630 fleet.
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    It was unclear to Winthrop when his wife would come over; she was pregnant and due to give birth in April 1630, near the fleet's departure time.
    More Details Hide Details They consequently decided that she would not come over until a later time; it would not be until 1631 that the couple was reunited in the New World. To maintain some connection with his wife during their separation, the couple agreed to think of each other between the hours of 5 and 6 in the evening each Monday and Friday.
  • 1629
    Age 42
    In October 1629 he was elected governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and in April 1630 he led a group of colonists to the New World, founding a number of communities on the shores of Massachusetts Bay and the Charles River.
    More Details Hide Details Between 1629 and his death in 1649, he served 19 annual terms as governor or lieutenant-governor, and was a force of comparative moderation in the religiously conservative colony, clashing with the more conservative Thomas Dudley and the more liberal Roger Williams and Henry Vane. Although Winthrop was a respected political figure, his attitude toward governance was somewhat authoritarian: he resisted attempts to widen voting and other civil rights beyond a narrow class of religiously approved individuals, opposed attempts to codify a body of laws that the colonial magistrates would be bound by, and also opposed unconstrained democracy, calling it "the meanest and worst of all forms of government". The authoritarian and religiously conservative nature of Massachusetts rule was influential in the formation of neighboring colonies, which were in some instances formed by individuals and groups opposed to the rule of the Massachusetts elders. Winthrop's son, John, was one of the founders of the Connecticut Colony, and Winthrop himself wrote one of the leading historical accounts of the early colonial period. His long list of descendants includes famous Americans, and his writings continue to influence politicians today.
  • 1626
    Age 39
    Winthrop was also aware of attempts to colonize other places - his son Henry became involved in efforts to settle Barbados in 1626, which Winthrop financially supported for a time.
    More Details Hide Details In March 1629 King Charles dissolved Parliament, beginning eleven years of rule without Parliament. This action apparently raised new concerns among the company's principals; in the company's July meeting, Governor Matthew Cradock proposed that the company reorganize itself and transport its charter and governance to the colony. It also worried Winthrop, who lost his position in the Court of Wards and Liveries in the crackdown on Puritans that followed the dissolution of Parliament. He wrote, "If the Lord seeth it wilbe good for us, he will provide a shelter & a hidinge place for us and others". During the following months, Winthrop became more involved with the company, meeting with others in Lincolnshire. By early August he had emerged as a significant proponent of emigration, and on 12 August he circulated a paper providing eight separate reasons in favor of emigration. His name appears in formal connection with the company on the Cambridge Agreement, signed 26 August; this document provided means for emigrating shareholders to buy out non-emigrating shareholders of the company.
  • 1625
    Age 38
    King Charles I had ascended the throne in 1625, and he had married a Roman Catholic.
    More Details Hide Details Charles was opposed to all manner of recusants, and supported the Church of England in its efforts against religious groups like the Puritans that did not adhere fully to its teachings and practices. This atmosphere of intolerance to their views led Puritan religious and business leaders to consider emigration to the New World as a viable means to escape persecution. The first successful religious colonization of the New World occurred in 1620 with the establishment of the Plymouth Colony on the shores of Cape Cod Bay. An effort in 1624 orchestrated by pastor John White led to a short-lived colony at Cape Ann, also on the Massachusetts coast. In 1628 some of the investors in that effort joined with new investors to acquire a land grant for the territory roughly between the Charles and Merrimack Rivers. First styled the New England Company, it was renamed the Massachusetts Bay Company in 1629 after it acquired a royal charter, granting it permission to govern the territory. Shortly after acquiring the land grant in 1628, it sent a small group of settlers led by John Endecott to prepare the way for further migration. John Winthrop was apparently not involved in any of these early activities, which involved primarily individuals from Lincolnshire; however, by early 1629 he was probably aware of the company's activities and plans. The exact connection by which he became involved with the company is uncertain, because there were many indirect connections between Winthrop and individuals directly associated with the company.
  • 1617
    Age 30
    His legal connections introduced him to the Tyndal family of Great Maplestead, Essex, and in 1617 he began courting Margaret Tyndal, the daughter of Sir John Tyndal, a chancery judge and his wife Anne Egerton, sister of the leading Puritan preacher Stephen Egerton. Her family was initially opposed to the match on financial grounds; Winthrop countered by appealing to piety as a virtue that more than compensated for his modest income. The couple were married on 29 April 1618 at Great Maplestead.
    More Details Hide Details They continued to live at Groton, although Winthrop necessarily divided his time between Groton and London, where he eventually acquired a highly desirable post in the Court of Wards and Liveries. His eldest son John sometimes assisted Margaret with the management of the estate while he was away. In the mid to late 1620s, the religious atmosphere in England began to look bleak for Puritans and other groups whose adherents believed the English Reformation was in danger.
  • 1615
    Age 28
    When his wife Mary died in 1615, Winthrop, following the custom of the time, remarried soon after, marrying Thomasine Clopton on 6 December 1615.
    More Details Hide Details She was noticeably more pious than Mary had been: Winthrop wrote that she was "truly religious & industrious therein". Thomasine died on 8 December 1616 from complications of childbirth; the child did not survive.
  • 1613
    Age 26
    In approximately 1613 (records indicate it may have been earlier), Winthrop was enrolled at Gray's Inn.
    More Details Hide Details There he read the law, but did not advance to the Bar.
  • 1605
    Age 18
    Winthrop documented his religious life, keeping a journal beginning 1605 in which he described his religious experiences and feelings.
    More Details Hide Details In it, he described his failures to keep "divers vows", and sought to reform his failings by God's grace, praying that God would "give me a new heart, joy in his spirit; that he would dwell with me". Winthrop was somewhat distressed that his wife did not share the intensity of his religious feelings, but he eventually observed that "she proved after a right godly woman." He was notably more intensely religious than his father, whose diaries dealt almost exclusively with secular matters.
    Winthrop left Trinity College to marry Mary on 16 April 1605 at Great Stambridge.
    More Details Hide Details Mary bore him five children, of whom only three survived to adulthood. The oldest of their children was John Winthrop, the Younger, who became a governor and magistrate of Connecticut. Their last two children, two girls, died not long after birth, and Mary died in 1615 from complications of the last birth. The couple spent most of their time at Great Stambridge, living on the Forth estate. In 1613 Adam Winthrop transferred the family holdings in Groton to Winthrop, who then became Lord of the Manor at Groton. As Lord of the Manor, Winthrop was deeply involved in the management of the estate, overseeing the agricultural activities and the manor house. He eventually followed his father in practicing law in London, which would have brought him into contact with the city's business elite. He was also appointed to the county commission of the peace, a position that gave him a wider exposure among other lawyers and landowners, and a platform to advance what he saw as God's kingdom. The commission's responsibilities included overseeing countywide issues, including road and bridge maintenance, and the issuance of licenses. Some of its members were also empowered to act as local judges for minor offenses, although Winthrop was only able to exercise this authority in cases affecting his estate. The full commission met quarterly, and Winthrop forged a number of important connections through its activities.
  • 1604
    Age 17
    In 1604 Winthrop journeyed to Great Stambridge in Essex with a friend.
    More Details Hide Details They stayed at the home of a family friend, and Winthrop was favorably impressed with their daughter, Mary Forth.
  • 1602
    Age 15
    He was admitted to Trinity College in December 1602, matriculating at the university a few months later.
    More Details Hide Details Among the students that he would have interacted with were John Cotton, and John Wheelwright, two men who would also have important roles in New England. He was a close childhood and university friend of William Spring, later a Puritan Member of Parliament, with whom he would correspond for the rest of his life. The teenage Winthrop admitted in his diary of the time to "lusts... so masterly as no good could fasten upon me." Biographer Francis Bremer suggests that Winthrop's need to control his baser impulses may have prompted him to leave school early and marry at an unusually early age.
  • 1587
    Age 0
    John Winthrop was born on 12 January 1587/8 to Adam and Anne (née Browne) Winthrop in Edwardstone, Suffolk, England.
    More Details Hide Details His birth was recorded in the parish register at Groton. His father's family had been successful in the textile business, and his father was a lawyer and prosperous landowner with several properties in Suffolk. His mother's family was also well-to-do, with properties in Suffolk and Essex. When Winthrop was young his father became a director at Trinity College, Cambridge. When Winthrop's uncle John (Adam's brother) emigrated to Ireland, the Winthrop family took up residence at Groton Manor. Winthrop was first tutored at home by John Chaplin and was assumed to have attended grammar school at Bury St. Edmunds. He was also regularly exposed to religious discussions between his father and clergymen, and thus came at an early age to a deep understanding of divinity.
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